"When government officials become aware of an impending disaster, they may take steps to protect citizens before the incident occurs. Evacuation of the geographic area that may be affected is one option to ensure public safety. If implemented properly, evacuation can be an effective strategy for saving lives. Evacuations and decisions to evacuate, however, can also entail complex factors and elevated risks. Decisions to evacuate may require officials to balance potentially costly, hazardous, or unnecessary evacuations against the possibility of loss of life due to a delayed order to evacuate. […] For short-term sheltering, federally provided resources include food, water, cots, and essential toiletries. When displaced individuals need long-term sheltering, federal policy provides financial assistance for alternative accommodations such as apartments, motels and hotels, recreational vehicles, and modular units. While federal law provides for certain aspects of civilian emergency evacuation, evacuation policy generally is established and enforced by state and local officials. In recent years, Members of Congress have focused, in part, on policy options that addressed issues of equity during evacuations as well as attempts to integrate federal, state, and local evacuation efforts more fully. This report discusses federal evacuation policy and analyzes potential lessons learned from the evacuations of individuals in response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. Several issue areas that might arise concerning potential lawmaking and oversight on evacuation policy are also highlighted. This report will be updated as significant legislative or administrative changes occur."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34745